The University of Southampton

Metadata-enabled Tools for Assistive Living and Learning

Accessible Technologies, Technology Enhanced Learning
Technology Strategy Board

The project will explore the use of metadata to drive the creation, accessibility and commercial availability of digital content to dyslexic school pupils and elderly visually impaired. There are around 500million people worldwide who are either blind, visually impaired and/or dyslexic. The advanced use of metadata to personalise the delivery of accessible content to these users across different platforms has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life and independence of millions of people.

The prime reason the UK Government is supporting a funding strand for content delivery and in particular metadata is because it realises the entire publishing industry may soon be routed through California, through i-stores, Google Stores and Amazon. The publishing sector in the UK is our sixth biggest national industry and needs to make content available over the web in the future. The Metall project will explore the market opportunities and the evaluation of multipurpose set of tools to tag, find and retrieve content, using metadata.

Project Objectives

To explore:

  • how a new accessibility metadata authoring tool and annotation service can be adopted by the creative digital industries to create metadata encoded resources;
  • how electronic content, including eBooks, can be automatically tailored for people who have various vision and print impairments and how new content can be created by combining content from other sources;
  • how accessible digital content can be located and moved from system to system using standards-based interoperability formats to support learning and training activities;
  • what accessibility metadata must be defined for text-based digital resources and their alternative forms, how this metadata is used in conjunction with the personal needs and preferences for users, and how both sets of data are defined and exchanged. This will consider the ISO Access For All (AfA) Digital Resource Description (DRD) and Personal Needs and Preferences (PNP) metadata standards as part of a review of leading standards.
  • how accessibility-based and other forms of metadata are combined to create an appropriate business model for the just-in-time creation of digitally accessible content – this will be focused on content that must be provided in various Braille and text-to-speech formats.

Primary investigators


  • Dolphin Computer Access
  • Dyslexia Action
  • RNIB

Associated research group

  • Web and Internet Science
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